Haredi leaders are warning their congregations against hiking, following two outdoor deaths of yeshiva students. "Don't be tempted to hike because it's life-threatening," Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Rabbi Aharon Steinman wrote in a statement meant to be released to the community formally in the upcoming days.
A 15-year-old yeshiva student from central Israel died Friday afternoon after he collapsed due to dehydration during a trip to Amud River in the north. The evening before, 20-year-old Zvi Miller, a yeshiva student from Netanya, died after dehydrating during a hike along the Zeelim River when he and his friends ran out of water.
The deaths caused great distress among the haredi community, becoming the main subject of discussion among congregations during the weekend.
"This is just the beginning of the vacation and two yeshiva students have already shortened their lives," the rabbis wrote in their statement.
The Teshabin Yeshiva in Jerusalem, where Miller had been a student prior to his death, announced they were cutting short the summer vacation and asking students to return to the yeshiva by the end of the week, in the hopes that Torah study would prevent additional tragedies. Several other yeshivas announced that they intended to follow suit.
This is not the first time yeshiva students have met with accidents during their brief summer break (less than a month - from Tisha B'Av to the first of Elul).
In the past, yeshiva students from the Lithuanian haredi school got into a number of accidents with rented vehicles. The head rabbi of the Lithuanian congregation consequently announced a prohibition on rental cars for yeshiva students.